SOURCE: Engineers Without Borders - USA

October 09, 2008 14:00 ET

Engineers Without Borders-USA Member Named Pop!Tech Fellow; Innovates Wind Turbine for Third-World Energy

BOULDER, CO--(Marketwire - October 9, 2008) - An inexpensive wind turbine design capable of generating electricity for the 1.6 billion around the world with no power has vaulted young engineer Heather Fleming on the radar of the prestigious Pop!Tech organization.

Fleming was named a 2008 Pop!Tech Social Innovation Fellow, one of a corps of change agents incubating breakthrough or "big bet" approaches to the world's most pressing, social economic and environmental problems.

Fleming was chosen from more than 100 nominees in more than 30 countries. She is one of the founders of San Francisco-based Catapult Design, a division of Engineers Without Borders-USA, which partners with remote, developing communities in about 45 countries on clean water, alternative energy, sanitation, and other critically needed projects.

"A few watts of power in a developing community can eliminate the need for expensive, polluting kerosene lamps that erode the health of many. Plus, a single LED light generated by wind turbines could lengthen daily productivity and boost students' time for schoolwork and education," Fleming said.

Catapult's wind turbine is now under development with the Appropriate Infrastructure Development Group, a U.S.-based nonprofit operating in Guatemala and Haiti. After further testing, Catapult intends for AIDG to produce the turbines, which, in turn, will be a source of income generation for people in Quetzaltenango, Guatemala.

"There's a misconception that people in the developing world are so poor that they can't afford technology," Fleming says. "This isn't a roadblock. It's a call for innovation and addressing real needs, including the need for sustainable businesses, in a way that's doable and affordable."

Fleming joins a class of 16 other Pop!Tech Fellows and will showcase the wind turbine and other developing world projects at the Pop!Tech 2008: Scarcity and Abundance conference Oct. 22-25 in Camden, Maine.

Begun in 2001 and based in Boulder, Colo. Engineers Without Border-USA's 12,000-strong humanitarian, volunteer workforce is made up of both professionals, engineers to architects, and students from around the country.

Catapult was founded this year by Fleming and Tyler Valiquette to address the needs for tools and technologies that provide clean water, produce renewable power, improve indoor air pollution or boost economic activity in the developing world.

For more information about Catapult Design: www.catapultdesign.org. For more information about Engineers Without Borders-USA: www.ewb-usa.org